Symantec and Kaspersky Lab Hit Back at Chinese Government Ban Claims

Security giants Symantec and Kaspersky Lab have hit back at reports that they have been banned from selling products to Beijing, after local media claimed the two had been dropped from an official government procurement supplier list.

The rumours were kicked off by a tweet from the official account of Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily. It read: “Govt procurement agency has excluded Symantec & Kaspersky fm a security software supplier list, all 5 in are fm China”.

It seemed as if the two vendors had become the latest to fall victim to what appears to be a tightening of controls by China on foreign technology products in the country.

However, Symantec has hit back with the following prepared statement: “It is important to note that this list is only for certain types of procurement and Symantec products are not banned by the Chinese government. We are investigating this report and will continue to bid for and win governments projects in China.

Kaspersky Lab, meanwhile, said there was “no evidence” to suggest it had been banned by Beijing.

It sent the following to Infosecurity:

The Chinese Central Government Procurement Center temporarily rescinded its endorsements of all foreign security providers, leaving only Chinese vendors on the approved list. However, this restriction only applies to national-level institutions whose funding comes from the central government procurement budget, and does not include regional governments or large enterprises. We are investigating and engaging in conversations with the Chinese authorities about this matter. It is too premature to go into any additional detail at this time.

The firm added that it had “always met all legal requirements” in all countries it operates in.

Last year’s procurement list featured 12 vendors, including foreign players Trend Micro, ESET and Panda Security, which also apparently failed to make the cut this year.

There’s no indication as to why the People’s Daily decided to call out just Symantec and Kaspersky Lab on Twitter.

However, the Chinese government has become increasingly twitchy over Edward Snowden-related allegations that the NSA not only eavesdropped on targets around the world, but that it may have installed backdoors on US-made technology products to do so – with or without their manufacturers’ knowledge.

This has been the perfect excuse for a government keen to assert the primacy of its home-grown technology products and companies.

At the end of May, Beijing announced a ban on Windows 8 for all government computers, with state-run media citing vague security concerns as the reason.

Then in the same week, the government promised to begin screening all IT products destined for government use, in a bid to bolster national security.

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